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Prof. Dr.

Peter Schlosser

Year of election: 2016
Section: Earth Sciences
City: Tempe
Country: USA
CV Peter Schlosser - Deutsch (pdf)


Research Foci: Oceanography, Hydrology, Air/Sea Gas Exchange, Continental Paleoclimate, Arctic Change, Sustainable Development

Peter Schlosser by training is a physicist who works in the fields of Earth Sciences, Environmental Engineering, and Sustainable Development. A primary field of activity is the measurement and application of trace substances that either occur naturally or have been introduced to the environment (so-called environmental tracers) to problems of water movement in natural systems (oceans, continental surface waters, and groundwater), air/sea gas exchange and continental paleoclimate. In these studies the tracers are used as ‘global dyes’ (e.g., tritium or radioactive hydrogen released during testing of nuclear devices or sulfurhexafluoride primarily used in the electrical industry, radioactive clocks (e.g., tritium in combination with its radioactive decay product 3He, radiocarbon, or 39Ar), or fingerprinting of specific water masses (e.g., the stable isotopes of water 2H, i.e., deuterium and 18O).

An example of Peter Schlosser’s and his research group’s work is the study of deep and bottom water formation in the high latitudes of the ocean including its variability and change. These studies produced the first solid evidence for a dramatic, ca. 80 per cent reduction of deep water formation in the Greenland Sea around 1980 using tritium (3H) and CFCs (anthropogenically produced chlorofluorocarbons). This contribution presented one of the first insights into abrupt changes of ocean dynamics and clearly demonstrated how finely tuned ocean processes can be, thus making them very vulnerable to human-induced perturbations of our environment.

Another example is the discovery of the supersaturation of helium and neon close to melting ice sheets around Antarctica. This signature, together with stable oxygen isotopes of water can be used to quantify the contribution of glacial meltwater to the bottom water formation around Antarctica, as well as for the mass balance of the floating Antarctic ice sheets. The latter is of major interest with respect to the stability of the Antarctic ice sheets.


  • since 2018 University Global Futures Professor, School of Sustainability, Arizone State University, Tempe, USA
  • 2015-2018 Chair, Dept. of Earth and Environmental Engineering, Columbia University
  • 2007-present Director of Research, The Earth Institute, Columbia University
  • 2015-present: Maurice Ewing and J. Lamar Worzel Professor of Geophysics; Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering; Columbia University
  • 1999-2014 Vinton Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering; Columbia University
  • 1993-present Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences,
  • 1994 Visiting Professor, University of Washington, Seattle
  • 1993-present Senior Staff, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
  • 1989-1992 Associate Professor, Columbia University
  • 1986-1989 Hochschulassistent, University of Heidelberg
  • 1985 PhD in Physics, University of Heidelberg
  • 1981 M.S. in Physics, University of Heidelberg


  • 2012-present Deputy Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University
  • 2009-2015 Founding Chair, Earth Institute faculty
  • 2004-2012 Associate Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University
  • 2000-2003 Chair, Dept. of Earth and Environmental Engineering, CU

Honours and Memberships

  • since 2016 Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • 2012 Printing of groundwater dating publication as ‘Benchmark Paper’ by IAHS
  • 2011 Elected Fellow of the Explorers Club    
  • 2011 Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • 2007 Elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • 1994 Vetlesen Fellow, University of Washington, Seattle




Emil-Abderhalden-Str. 35
06108 Halle (Saale)

Phone 0345 - 47 239 - 122
Fax 0345 - 47 239 - 139
E-Mail archiv @leopoldina.org

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